Burnout Legends Review: 5 Reasons to Buy

Burnout Legends cover art

Burnout Legends Review: 5 Reasons to Buy

Racing games on handhelds can often seem crude and elementary in comparison to their console counterparts. The Game Boy Advance foreshadowed what could be accomplished on the small screen in terms of racing. Fast forward to 2005’s Burnout Legends, developed by Criterion for the Sony PSP, and watch as blistering speed, incredible graphics, and hours of addicting gameplay unfold in your hands. 

A Handheld Experience Worthy of Consoles

burnout screenshot
Burnout has a long history of street racing in the gaming world.

Burnout Legends is a tour de force of high-quality gameplay that doesn’t suffer from the “leftovers” syndrome of so many other PSP titles, even though the courses found within the game are tweaked tracks from previous games. Even if you’ve played every Burnout title to date, including the recent Burnout Revenge on consoles, Burnout Legends is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.

Legends encompasses everything you love about the series, whether you possess an affinity for a particular game – Burnout, Burnout 2, or Burnout 3: Takedown – or enjoy them all equally. Most importantly, it doesn’t water down the experience that fans will demand; it’s still all about carnage and speed. Burnout enthusiasts will obviously recognize the tracks found within, but that doesn’t diminish the overall appeal of Burnout Legends.

While console purists may find the PSP screen a tad small when it comes to seeing what obstacles lie ahead, Criterion managed to foresee this hindrance and left small visual clues as to what’s in your way so they can be avoided. As you play the game, you’ll definitely become more astute at deciphering these tiny details to help you navigate at high speeds.

Several Modes to Try

Jumping into World Tour, Burnout Legends’ meat and potatoes mode, even novice players will get the hang of the rules of the road quickly. Relying on simplicity in controls and gameplay, Criterion provides players with an easy-to-understand three-button configuration- gas, brake, and boost. The more dangerously you drive by risking life and limb driving in the oncoming lane, sideswiping vehicles, etc., the faster you’ll fill your boost meter. Kicking into boost, your car zoom zooms from fast to furious, which automatically enables the adrenaline-fueled Hyper Focus mode. 

Making your way through the World Tour throws a handful of different events your way. While you’ll start off with compact cars and have to race your way through some “normal” races in Burnout Legends, you’ll eventually run into the following events: Faceoff (race against a single opponent to win his vehicle), Burning Laps (time trials), Road Rage (take down as many opponents within the time limit), and Pursuit (you’re the police trying to chase down a perp).

Burnout has the hottest rides in the fictional version of Southern California.

 As with the original Burnout, Crash mode, which offers 100 various metal twisting, glass-shattering events, is kept separate from World Tour. Playing this mode unlocks other tracks and vehicles, though, so it’s still worth a play. If you’ve played Burnout Revenge, you’ll know that the Crash mode has removed multiplier scores during this event. Legends also reflect this alteration.

Play With Your Friends

Since Burnout 3 was a blast to play online, Burnout Legends allows up to 6 players simultaneously. Unfortunately, you can’t race online, being able to play only with those standing close enough to take advantage of the PSP’s wireless functionality. Given the value of this game to anyone’s PSP collection, you shouldn’t have too difficult a time locating competition. Plus, it can be cathartic to beat someone who’s come in ahead of you in the last few races.

If your friends have yet to buy this game, you can treat them to a sample by uploading a track to their PSP so you can play head-to-head with only one UMD. Hopefully, that sample will be enough to get them to buy the full version. Not unlikely, given this game’s appeal. You might have also heard that 5 random cars come loaded onto each Legends UMD. To earn the other 20 you will actually have to play against other humans in the game. This could easily turn into a very cool Pokémon-esque pastime, and Criterion deserves praise for thinking outside the box.

A Great-Looking Game

Controlling your car with the PSP’s analog stick can feel a little sloppy at times, so you may find yourself gravitating toward the directional pad. Luckily this method feels tight and responsive, which is helpful when executing the split-second decisions so often required of players in this type of game.

Visually, Burnout Legends maintains a silky smooth framerate while preserving the explosions, flying debris, and insane accidents of its console brethren. It may not impress quite as much as Revenge, but for a handheld game on a smaller screen, the graphics are more than adequate. The PSP’s screen sharpens everything to a brilliant finish, and Burnout Legends is one of its hottest-looking titles yet. It certainly earns the award of best PSP racing title, hands down. Musically, the game relies heavily on hip club music, which does its job without being especially memorable. 

An Excellent Addition to the Series

While Burnout Legends can be tempting to write off as a “Greatest Hits,” it really doesn’t come off as a total rehash or watered-down console version at all. It feels fresh and invigorating to play this game on the go. Criterion packed so much into this UMD that it can, by itself, justify your investment in the PSP. Legends is just as much of a blast to play alone as it as it to play with friends. It’s a wild ride, and one worth taking on the PSP.

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